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411 Box Office Report: Shang-Chi Destroys Expectations With $83.5 Million Start

September 5, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Chalk up another big win for Marvel, as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings demolished expectations in its opening weekend for the top spot. The latest MCU film tallied $71.4 million over three days and a projected $83.5 through Monday to dominate the competition. The start is easily a Labor Day weekend record, beating the previous three-day record of $29.3 million (1999’s The Sixth Sense) and the four-day record of $30.6 million (2007’s Halloween).

To call this an overperformance would be an understatement. Coming into the weekend, most expectations had it at around $45 to $50 million; even the most bullish expectations had it at $65 million over four days. But again, we never doubt Marvel’s ability to elevate obscure characters to box office gold. The three-day opening is on par with Ant-Man & The Wasp’s $75.8 million start and ahead of the first MCU films for Thor ($65.7 million), Captain America: The First Avenger ($65.1 million) and Ant-Man ($57.2 million). If you count the four-day number, it’s on par with Black Widow’s $80.4 million start and just a bit below Doctor Strange’s $85.1 million.

It’s also important to note that the film’s projection grew throughout the weekend, as it has had very good holds throughout. That means it’s not impossible that the film’s final four-day number ends up even higher.

We can credit this to a lot of things. First off, there is no doubt that the theatrical-exclusive release helped the box office. Whether that is good for Disney’s bottom line is a debatable topic, but it’s certainly good for theaters as there was no Disney+ release to draw audiences away. Second, people really like this movie. The hype for Shang-Chi began building out of the first screenings, and then when the critical reviews came in strong (92% positive on Rotten Tomatoes) that hype began building.

That all drew interest in the film, and then word of mouth took over. Shang-Chi has an A CinemaScore, in the upper tier for the MCU, as well as a stellar 91% positive and 70% recommend from PostTrak. All of this is adding up to big receipts for the first film to chronologically take place after Avengers: Endgame, and the first MCU film with a predominantly Asian and Asian-American cast.

The question now is how far the film will go from here, but it’s pretty much a guaranteed hit at this rate. The movie has added $56.2 million overseas for a $139.7 million global start through Monday. Domestically, the film seems very likely to at least hit $180 million, and probably higher. It is on a 45-day exclusivity which is shorter than your average blockbuster window, but if it follows the MCU’s typical drops than $200 million domestic is by no means out of the question. With a reported $150 million production budget plus marketing, this is a major hit for Disney and Marvel.

Impressively, Shang-Chi’s success didn’t hurt Candyman as much as expected, even with the major overperformance. The horror sequel brought in $10.6 million in its second frame for the three-day weekend, down 52% from last weekend. That’s a pretty average drop for a horror film, but with the MCU film sucking all the air out of the room, it would have been expected to drop harder. Nia DaCosta’s revival is projected to do $13.4 million for the four-day weekend is now in full-fledged hit territory with $39.1 million domestically through Sunday and $50 million worldwide against a $25 million budget. It still seems likely for around $60 million domestically before it leaves theaters.

Free Guy also continues to perform well, as it dropped 34% in its fourth weekend to $8.7 million (and $11.1 million through Sunday). The Ryan Reynolds comedy now stands at an impressive $91.9 million domestically and $239.3 million worldwide, a hit against a $100 million budget. This film should be able to end with a domestic total north of $110 million, and the already-announced sequel is financially justified at this point.

Paw Patrol: The Movie nailed down another $4 million in its opening weekend, off 40% from last weekend. Its four-day take is an estimated $5.2 million. The animated family movie is now up to $31.5 million domestically and $62 million worldwide, a money maker for Paramount against a $26 million budget especially since it’s also driving traffic to Paramount+. It should end its domestic run in the $40 million-plus range.

Jungle Cruise’s run continues to be strong, down just 21% in its sixth weekend to $4 million ($5.2 million over four days). The Dwayne Johnson/Emily Blunt adventure film has now grossed $105.6 million domestically and $192.5 million worldwide, plus the amount its made on Disney+ Premier Access, making it profitable even against its $200 million budget once all the revenue streams are tallied. It should finish off at around $115 million or so domestically.

Don’t Breathe 2 nailed down $2.2 million in its fourth weekend, down 23% from last frame, with $2.7 million through Monday. The horror sequel is up to $28 million domestically and $40.8 million worldwide. The movie is already a big hit against its $14 million production budget plus marketing, but it is nowhere near the first film and should end at around $35 million.

Respect slipped 44% in its fourth weekend to $1.3 million ($1.6 million through Monday). The Aretha Franklin biopic is now available on PVOD, so it is not likely to bring in a ton more at the box office and will go down as a disappointment. The film has a total of $21.9 million domestically and $22.5 million worldwide against a reported $55 million budget.

The Suicide Squad brought in $905,000 over the three-day weekend (down 55%) and $1.11 million over four days. The DCEU movie is now at $54.4 million in the US and $156.2 million worldwide. The film won’t be profitable just from theaters but the HBO Max subscription numbers will allow Warner Bros. to call it a success. The budget was $185 million.

Black Widow got a boost from its MCU sibling film, down just 5% in its ninth weekend with $748,000 ($903,000 through Monday). The film was double-booked at some drive-ins with Shang-Chi which no doubt led to some additional revenue this weekend. Widow has now grossed $182.5 million domestically and $369.8 million worldwide, plus $125 million through Disney+ Premier Access, to make it a hit even against a $200 million budget. It’s nearing its final gross number at this point.

David Bruckner’s The Night House slipped 54% in its third weekend for $552,000 ($700,000 through Sunday). The horor film is now $6.3 million domestically and $7.7 million worldwide, with an end goal of about $7.5 million in the states.

Barring a disastrous fall, Shang-Chi should continue to reign next weekend. The movie does have some new contenders to fend off, but none of them should be a challenge whether it’s James Wan’s Malignant ($10 million to $15 million), the crime comedy Queenpins (mid-single digits), as well as the Oscar Isaac film The Card Counter (low single digits).

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – $71.4 million ($71.4 million total)
2. Candyman – $10.6 million ($39.1 million total)
3. Free Guy – $8.7 million ($91.9 million total)
4. Paw Patrol: The Movie – $4 million ($31.5 million total)
5. Jungle Cruise – $4 million ($105.6 million total)
6. Don’t Breathe 2 – $2.2 million ($28 million total)
7. Respect – $1.3 million ($21.9 million total)
8. The Suicide Squad – $905,000 ($54.4 million total)
9. Black Widow – $748,000 ($182.5 million total)
10. The Night House – $552,000 ($6.2 million total)